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Marquette Women’s Basketball Preview: vs Holy Cross & vs Milwaukee

The Golden Eagles fit in two more home games this weekend before leaving for the Bahamas.

NCAA Basketball: Horizon League Tournament-Wright State vs Milwaukee
No good pictures of Holy Cross’ mascot, so please enjoy this eight year old picture of Milwaukee’s mascot.
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

You can’t label Marquette women’s basketball’s first game of the season anything other than a resounding success.

It was a 28 point win, 75-47, over Fairleigh Dickinson. They held their opponents to under 50 points in a game that had 71 possessions. Marquette’s top three returning players — Chloe Marotta, Jordan King, and Liza Karlen — combined to contribute 57 points, 20 rebounds, nine assists, five blocks, and nine steals. We can quibble about fine details if you really want to — MU should probably never shoot 24% from behind the arc in a game ever again this season if they want to be an NCAA tournament team — but all in all, great season opening win. Not just a great season opening win, but a great win against a team that’s coming off a great year and projected to do big things this year, too.

MU will play two more games this weekend, and hopefully both of them go just as well as the opener. They will be the Golden Eagles’ final two tuneup games before they head off to the Bahamas to participate in the Battle 4 Atlantis. It is very likely that Marquette could face three straight ranked opponents in that tournament, so it’s kind of crucial that they have all their ducks in a row before leaving for their November 19th game against preseason #3 Texas.

Speaking of ducks in a row, we have to make a note that we are anticipating some kind of news from head coach Megan Duffy on Friday. Freshman Aizhanique Mayo was apparently not on the bench for Monday’s season opener, and when asked about it, Duffy had no comment at the time. She did say that she would have a statement available on Friday, presumably after the game. Generally speaking, this all sounds kind of bad. However, it could be as simple as an injury and Duffy waiting until she has the full scope and details of what’s going on before she says anything out loud in public.

Game #2: vs Holy Cross Crusaders (1-0)

Date: Friday, November 11, 2022
Time: 7pm Central
Location: Al McGuire Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Streaming: FloHoops
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

Marquette is 0-1 all time against Holy Cross. The lone meeting between the two sides came back in the 1987-88 season when the Crusaders picked up a 97-76 victory in a New Year’s timed event hosted by UCF. Good year for Joan Pitrof, as she set what is still the sophomore year record for assists in a season, bad year for Marquette as they went 9-19 overall.

Holy Cross was picked to finish third in the Patriot League this season. That’s particularly notable, since the Crusaders won the regular season conference title a year ago with a record of 14-4. Their season most definitely did not end the way they wanted to, falling in the first round of the Patriot League conference tournament to #8 seeded Navy on a wild buzzer beater and then got clonked, 80-69, on the road against Columbia in the first round of the WNIT. Holy Cross did pick up two first place votes out of a possible 20 in the PL’s preseason poll, so it’s not like they’re out of mind heading into the season.

They started off the year extremely well, even with no one on the preseason all-Patriot League team. Game #1 went in their favor, 67-39, on the road against Merrimack. Bronagh Power-Cassidy, owner of one of the best names you’ll see all season, led all scorers in that one with 19. The 5’10” Irish junior got most of her points by way of going 3-for-6 from behind the arc, something that MU is definitely going to want to avoid seeing on Friday night. Power-Cassidy was HC’s #2 scorer a year ago behind the now-departed Avery LaBarbera, but she only averaged 9.0 points per game while shooting 35% from long range.

Holy Cross crushed Merrimack on the offensive glass in their opener, pulling in 43% of their misses for another try. The Crusaders were a middle of the country rebounding team on both ends last season, so if Marquette devotes themselves to Megan Duffy’s preferred rebounding standard, that should alleviate any concerns about second chances.

Game #3: vs Milwaukee Panthers (1-1)

Date: Sunday, November 13, 2022
Time: 2pm Central
Location: Al McGuire Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Streaming: FloHoops
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

Marquette is 32-20 all time against Milwaukee. The series started in 1976 with a Panthers victory, but MU took seven of the next eight through 1981….. and then didn’t win again until 1992. Since then, Marquette has lost to the Panthers just three times, but that includes a 64-55 contest in 2020, which was the last time these two squads met at the McGuire Center.

Milwaukee started out their season with a pair of home games over at the Klotsche Center. They lost 58-49 to Wisconsin in the opener on Monday night, then bounced back to beat Loyola Chicago, 76-66, on Thursday evening. I don’t know if either contest says anything particularly strong about the Panthers one way or another, as they were picked to finish fifth in the 11 team Horizon League this year. It probably says a lot of very not good things for the Ramblers as they face their first season in the Atlantic 10, though. Milwaukee is coming off a 15-16 season a year ago, but they did go 13-9 in Horizon League action.

Through two games, Grace Crowley, Angie Cera, and Emma Wittmershaus are UWM’s top scorers. They’re at 10.5, 10.0, and 9.5 points per game respectively, and given the weirdness that is a two-game sample size, it’s important to point out all three right now. Crowley’s number is the most out of whack with what she’s actually scored, going for eight against Wisconsin and 13 against Loyola. Megan Walstad is the #4 scorer on the team right now, and that’s worth mentioning because the redshirt senior from Minnesota was Milwaukee’s only rep on the preseason all-Horizon League team. She was held to just two points in the opener, which is why her average is so low. Walstad totaled up 15 points against Loyola on Friday, which is perhaps a lot more in line with what head coach Kyle Rechlicz is expecting from her.

It’s a little early in the year to take any kind of national rankings into account, but I will point out that Milwaukee was a top 100 rebounding team on both ends of the court, at least in terms of rates, last season. As always, Megan Duffy emphasizes rebounding for the Golden Eagles, and if the Panthers are going to focus on that as well, that’s where the game may be settled.